With Chicago-based federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett making the final cuts, President Donald Trump said Thursday he will unveil his Supreme Court choice in a Monday prime time announcement.
No matter who Trump picks, a ferocious battle will erupt over whether his nominee will overturn the landmark abortion rights case, Roe v. Wade and former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Trump, the former reality show star, even scheduled the formal “reveal” – 8 p.m. Chicago time – though it is also possible he teases it earlier with a tweet.
Barrett, 46, was confirmed by the Senate to a lifetime appointment on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals this past October.
Here’s my analysis and how the simple fact of being a Hoosier may tip the scale for her, especially if Trump is wrestling with a close call:
• The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals handles federal appeals from Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. Barrett holds an Indiana “seat” on the court, which hears cases in the Dirksen Federal Building courthouse in the Loop.
• Her main residence is still in Indiana, where her husband, Jesse, is an assistant United States attorney in the Northern District of Indiana, whose legal turf takes in Fort Wayne, Hammond, South Bend and Lafayette. They are the parents of seven children, two of whom are adopted from Haiti and a third – their youngest – who has special needs.
Barrett talks about her family in her introductory remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sept. 6, 2017. Source: CSPAN
• Trump, speaking to reporters on Air Force One en route to a Thursday rally in Montana, said he will firm up his pick on Sunday after meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and others at his New Jersey resort over the weekend. Indeed, Trump and first lady Melania will dine with Pence and the second lady on Friday night at his Bedminster, N.J. club.
• Pence is the former governor of Indiana. The Trump/Pence 2020 ticket wants to keep Indiana red. Pence can get in the influential last word.
• Reports on Thursday from NBC, NPR and Associated Press put Barrett, a former Notre Dame law school professor with roots in South Bend, in the final three. The others are federal appeals court judges, Brett Kavanaugh, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia – he was raised in Bethesda, Md. – and Raymond Kethledge, who lives near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and sits on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg and Mara Liasson put it this way on Thursday: Trump has “Kavanaugh and Barrett as the top two at this moment.”
• Trump has to tap a nominee who the GOP-controlled Senate will confirm. The Republicans have a 51-49 advantage. But the road to 50 votes – with Pence voting in case of a tie – is full of obstacles.
Two GOP senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska support abortion rights. They are two votes Trump may lose if they come to conclude his nominee will overturn the Roe v. Wade precedent.
Trump is looking for insurance.
• That’s where Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Indiana Democrat, enters the picture. He is up for re-election in November and is in a tough race. He will face intense pressure to vote for the Trump selection.
It’s harder for Donnelly to say no to a fellow Hoosier.
The ad writes itself.
Donnelly and other vulnerable Democrats are being wooed by Trump.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on June 28 said Donnelly, Collins, Murkowski and two other Democrats in tough races – Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota – met with Trump to talk about the Supreme Court vacancy.
Barrett, a former law clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, won Senate conformation Oct. 31 on 55-43 vote. Barrett was backed by Donnelly, Murkowski, Collins and Manchin.
But that roll call may shed little light in the fierce Supreme Court fight ahead if Barrett is the pick.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) questions Barrett on her Catholic faith and whether it would influence her decisions on the federal appeals court in her confirmation hearing in September, 2017. Source: CSPAN